This is apparently the Murakami book that "everyone" in Japan has read, and disaffected protagonist Toru Watanabe is apparently a Holden Caulfield-esque figure for a lot of Japanese youth. To me, though, the book less reflects Catcher in the Rye than it predicts Zach Braff's Garden State, an ode to a time in life when the big choices seem so big that you don't end up making them at all, and find yourself instead drawn to the safety and comfort of nostalgia and memory.Though it's set in Japan, and the late '60s, it has a universal emotional current that doesn't feel dated one bit. It's darkly emotional but also surprisingly sexy and funny. Toru is the signature Murakami protagonist, just a few years younger than we're used to seeing him, and the women are given more presence and substance than they were allowed in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, even if they are all a little too eager to jump into bed with Toru, who kind of seems like a loser. That's even if, and here's really what solidified the connection to Garden State in my mind, Midori, who is a fabulously entertaining character, is also basically a stock manic pixie dream girl, with all the associated hangups and quirks and buried secrets. It works better on the page, since I never wanted to punch her in the face for doing hot dog dances or going on and on about The Shins.I really wish I'd read this in college, just like I really wish I'd read Catcher in high school, but I still think it plays at any age.